West Lake LEC underscores the positive impact music is having on residents

‘When we have music entertainers, that always gets everyone going, and music is something everyone enjoys’

Since in-house musical entertainment has returned to West Lake Terrace, life enrichment co-ordinator (LEC) David Forsyth says residents have enjoyed getting back into the groove.

Music-based activities, he says, are programs everyone at the Prince Edward County long-term care home enjoys.

“When we have music entertainers, that always gets everyone going, and music is something everyone enjoys,” David tells The OMNIway.

With pandemic protocols relaxing, in-house entertainment has returned to West Lake Terrace this year and residents have been flocking to the performances the home hosts.

In fact, David has booked three entertainers for the coming month to meet the residents’ entertainment needs.

West Lake Terrace has a long-standing group of entertainers who have become well known to residents, but residents are also open to new entertainers, David notes.

Sometimes residents are the source of ideas.

For instance, a resident recently approached David to recommend a singer-guitarist who performed at the home a few years back, so David took the resident up on their offer.

“I called that gentleman and he has agreed to come in,” the LEC says.

Music has long been an important tool used to enhance quality of life for long-term care home residents. Music can be uplifting and bring back fond memories.

For those residents living with cognitive impairment, music can be relaxing and calm agitation.

David says he has seen first-hand the benefits music can provide residents. Right after an entertainer performs, a positive vibe will resonate at the home, he says.

“(Music) will just put people in a good mood.”

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New West Lake LEC looking forward to developing innovative activities

Of note, David Forsyth says he’d like to bring tai chi to residents and expand exercise programming

As David Forsyth settles into his role as the new life enrichment co-ordinator (LEC) at West Lake Terrace, he says what he’s looking forward to most is developing more innovative activities for residents of the Prince Edward County long-term care home.

In particular, David, who became the West Lake Terrace LEC in July, says he hopes to develop more exercise programs with the home’s physiotherapy assistant to help enhance residents’ mobility as well as bring activities like tai chi to the home.

David holds a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology, the study of the dynamics of human body movement, so it’s no surprise he has a strong interest in programming focused on helping residents improve their strength and endurance.

David’s studies in kinesiology and gerontology resulted in a keen interest in helping older adults improve and maintain their physical well-being, so long-term care has been a natural fit for a career choice, he says, adding he’s now working towards a master’s degree in health studies.

David says he was drawn to kinesiology after having to undergo physiotherapy when he sustained a knee injury in Grade 12.

“From there, I developed an interest in that field,” says David, who began his career at West Lake Terrace when he assumed the role of office manager/NASM in February 2021.

While David says he enjoyed his post as the West Lake Terrace office manager/NASM, being the LEC is more geared towards his background.

David also notes that being the LEC means he works more directly with residents, which is what he says he enjoys most about the position, and this is where his strengths lie.

David says participating in activities with residents is his favourite part of his job.

“Bingo is my favourite activity to do with residents,” he says, adding that bingo is also the residents’ favourite activity.

“I’m testing out different things (and) I’m looking forward to bringing more (activities) here.”

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West Lake team member brings his chip truck to residents

The experience went so well that Tyler Langmuir was asked to bring his mobile snack bar back to the home in October

A fond summertime memory for many of us is visiting the local chip truck for a snack.

With this in mind, a West Lake Terrace team member, who operates a chip truck, brought his mobile snack shop to residents of the Prince Edward County long-term care home Aug. 17.

Nutritional care department team member Tyler Langmuir pulled up to West Lake Terrace that day and cooked hamburgers, hot dogs, poutine, onion rings and french fries for residents to enjoy.

Tyler, who takes his chip truck to events throughout the region every summer, wanted to do something special for residents and he didn’t disappoint, says West Lake Terrace life enrichment co-ordinator David Forsyth.

Team members set up a shaded area outside with tables and chairs so residents could comfortably enjoy their treats. David says about 30 residents came out to enjoy a burger or hot dog.

The many smiling faces of residents captured in photos team members took that day speaks to how much they enjoyed their chip truck snacks.

In fact, residents liked having a chip truck on site so much that Tyler and the rest of the West Lake Terrace team are trying to organize another visit in autumn.

“The residents loved it,” David says of the chip truck visit. “They want him to come back again, so we are trying to plan it so he can come back in October.”

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West Lake residents attend first church service in two years

West Lake Terrace residents recently had their first in-house church service since the COVID-19 pandemic began, an event that helped meet residents’ spiritual needs and also brought some normality back to the Prince Edward County long-term care home.

Janie Denard, the home’s life enrichment co-ordinator, says several residents attended the March 1 service that was led by Rev. Fran Langlois of St. Mary Magdalene Anglican Church in Picton and her husband, Mike, who led hymns on his guitar.

“The residents were so thrilled to have Fran back, and her husband, Mike, came as well to play guitar,” Janie tells The OMNIway, adding the residents needed an in-house event like this one.

“One of the residents commented to me afterwards, ‘I wasn’t going to go, but that did me a world of good.’ ”

To keep everyone safe during the ongoing pandemic, social distancing was practised and there were Plexiglas barriers set up during the event, with Fran and Mike on one side and residents on the other, Janie notes.

This was the first church service held at West Lake Terrace since March 2020, Janie says, and it meant a lot to residents to be able to see Fran again.

“We haven’t had our churches visiting us; residents have missed the spiritual (programs), and Fran has been a big part of our home for so many years and the residents have missed her,” she says.

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Happy Meals bring smiley faces to West Lake residents

McDonald’s day went so well the home is looking to add a fast-food meal as a special treat during end-of-month birthday celebrations

West Lake Terrace residents had a hankering from some takeout food, something they’ve been missing since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic two years ago, and some community collaboration between the Prince Edward County long-term care home and a local McDonald’s restaurant made sure they had Happy Meals that were happy meals.

During West Lake Terrace’s recent Beat the Winter Blahs Week, an annual five-day event in February organized by the life enrichment team to keep spirits high during one of the coldest months, team members organized a McDonald’s day for residents.

Life enrichment co-ordinator Janie Denard reached out to the McDonald’s in Picton to ask if the restaurant could help with a large order of Happy Meals – the famous boxes from the Golden Arches that contain a hamburger, fries and a drink – for residents.

The restaurant offered to donate cookies and mini doughnuts for dessert, a kind gesture that Janie says helped make everyone’s day even more special.

“It was so well-received by residents,” Janie tells The OMNIway. “When I went in to pick up our order, (the McDonald’s staff) were fantastic – as a team, they worked so well together, I was just flabbergasted.”

The cookies and doughnuts hit the spot with everyone, Janie adds.

“That was a lovely addition to the day,” she says.

Janie says the McDonald’s day was such a hit with residents that she and Diane King, the home’s nutritional care manager, have decided to host a fast-food day on the last Wednesday of every month to go along with monthly birthday celebrations.

Janie says residents were in need of an event like the McDonald’s day.

“A lot of the residents have not been able to get out (since the pandemic began) to get a meal, so this was great,” she says.

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Winter Olympic-themed day highlights fun-filled week at West Lake Terrace

Beat the Winter Blahs Week ‘was good therapy for everybody’

For West Lake Terrace residents, a “luge” ride down the corridors of the Prince Edward County long-term care home was just what they needed to help get them through a cold, snow-filled February.

Residents were treated to West Lake’s annual Beat the Winter Blahs Week Feb. 14-18, and a Winter Olympic-themed day was definitely the residents’ favourite part of the week, says life enrichment co-ordinator Janie Denard.

The Winter Olympics day featured a curling activity and a luge ride, which the residents and staff members equally enjoyed, Janie says.

For the luge ride, Janie bought a snow tube and put it on a dolly that was specially made for the tube to fit on top. Residents sat on the tube and went safely “sliding” down the corridors with the help of staff.

“Some of the residents were hesitant at first, (but) some of them jumped right in, and they were hooting and hollering as they were taken up the hallway,” Janie tells The OMNIway.

“It was good therapy for everybody. There were lots of laughs, and it was just something different for everybody.”

In fact, the event was such a huge hit with residents and team members that West Lake Terrace is planning to loan the snow tube and dolly to sister home Kentwood Park so residents and staff at that home can have a similar event, Janie says.

With a colder-than-normal February and everyone feeling fatigued from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Janie says West Lake Terrace residents and staff were ready for some fun, and the Beat the Winter Blahs Week delivered.

“We all just needed to have a good laugh and be outside the box with the residents,” she says. “We are all kind of in the same place. We are hoping we are on the home stretch with the pandemic, and things are starting to loosen up. We’re feeling more hopeful.”

– More to come

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Pre-Christmas pet therapy and Santa visit brings cheer to West Lake residents

Lesley Campbell, her father and two dogs had a meaningful visit with residents before pandemic restrictions returned

Just before current pandemic restrictions came into effect in December, West Lake Terrace residents received a visit from Santa Claus as well as from two of their four-legged friends. These visits helped make for a happy holiday season for residents of the Prince Edward County long-term care home, says life enrichment co-ordinator Janie Denard.

Lesley Campbell, a longtime volunteer at West Lake Terrace, came to the home with her two therapy dogs, Huxley and Fergus, to spend time with everyone, and the program was “well received, as always” by residents, Janie says.

Huxley, a pug who made his debut as a West Lake Terrace pet therapy headliner in November following a 20-month absence of pet therapy programs at the home, brought lots of smiles and joy to residents that day, Janie says.

“The residents loved having him back, and we are hopeful that, yet again, things will open up and we can have Fergus and Huxley back again for some more visits,” she says.

Additionally, Lesley’s father, Clark, was at the home and put on a Santa costume to play St. Nick for residents, a gesture that brought lots of Christmas cheer.

All the residents received Christmas cards from Lesley and her family as well, Janie says.

The visit from Lesley, her dad and the dogs was engaging for residents and brought out some who normally don’t attend programming, Janie says.

The day also brought optimism for the future, she adds.

“It was fantastic because they all knew (restrictions were) coming, but having them here made the residents feel hopeful that brighter days are ahead,” Janie says.

“Huxley was a good distraction for all of us. You just look into his big brown eyes and kind of forget about everything else.”

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West Lake wraps up first-time Christmas door decorating contest

Aside from being fun for residents, families and staff, the contest also proved to be an excellent team-building exercise

West Lake Terrace’s first annual Christmas door decorating contest has come to a close, and the residents who judged the competition had such a hard time picking a winner from all the creative designs that in the end the winners were drawn from a hat.

The contest engaged residents, their family members and the West Lake Terrace team. Working in teams, participants decorated doors throughout the Prince Edward County long-term care home with an array of colourful and elaborate Christmas-themed designs.

Among the designs teams created were Snoopy sleeping on his decorated dog house, Santa and Mrs. Claus driving a car, and Santa’s reindeer in their stable.

In November, participants were provided a list of all the doors at West Lake Terrace. Each team reserved a door to decorate with a winter or holiday season theme.

Some doors were decorated by teams of residents and staff members, while some residents paired up with family members for the contest.

Residents were asked to judge the designs, but they had a tough time, says West Lake Terrace life enrichment co-ordinator Janie Denard.

“The residents could not choose the best door, as they all felt everyone deserved to win,” she tells The OMNIway.

The resident judges requested Janie put the door numbers in a hat and draw for two winners of the gift cards that were provided as prizes by supplier Handicare Canada.

The winners picked from the hat were screener Kim Dawe and personal support worker Linda May.

Along with the fun everyone had, Janie says the door decorating contest also proved to be an excellent team-building exercise.

“It was so great to see all departments involved and helping each other out by sharing ideas and supplies,” she says.

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West Lake dining room window decorated with Christmas art, thanks to creative team member

Screener Annette Bourette commended for sharing her artistic talent with residents and staff

If you go past the large dining room window at West Lake Terrace these days you’ll see some detailed Christmas-themed murals painted on the glass.

This creative yuletide art, which includes a decorated Christmas tree, a snowman and candy canes, is the handiwork of Annette Bourette, a screener at the Prince Edward County long-term care home.

Annette took on the entire dining room window as a Christmas decorating project, an initiative that has been fully embraced by West Lake residents and staff members.

“It’s just unbelievable what she has been able to do,” says life enrichment co-ordinator Janie Denard.

“We didn’t know that Annette could paint the way that she does, but I think that a lot of the staff have these huge talents that we don’t see.”

Janie says Annette approached her about painting the window a couple of weeks back, and she was on board with the idea. Annette even bought her own supplies to get the job done.

Residents have been awestruck by Annette’s artistic talents, Janie says, noting they have been by her side watching her carefully paint each mural on the window.

“Residents have been sitting with her and watching and waiting to see what the finished product is going to look like,” Janie says, adding Annette deserves the highest kudos for doing such an “amazing” job.

“She has gone above and beyond; it has been unbelievable.”

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West Lake residents enjoy their first pet-therapy program in 20 months

Huxley, the brother of beloved volunteer pug Gibson, makes his debut as pet-therapy headliner at the home

Dog owners are all too familiar with their loyal canines waiting at the front door for them to return home, but on Nov. 22 the situation was reversed at West Lake Terrace as residents anxiously waited for a visit from a pug named Huxley.

Huxley and his owner, Lesley Campbell, were due to arrive at 2:30 p.m. that day for the Prince Edward County long-term care home’s first pet-therapy session in 20 months, so it’s easy to understand why residents were looking forward to seeing their furry friend.

The last pet-therapy program at the home was before the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020, when Lesley was at the home with Huxley’s brother, Gibson, a five-year volunteer at West Lake Terrace, who sadly passed away in summer.

Huxley had been to West Lake Terrace with Gibson, but this was the first time he had been “the star of the show,” says Janie Denard, the home’s life enrichment co-ordinator.

Residents were so excited to see Huxley and Lesley they were waiting by the front door for an hour, Janie notes.

“It was fabulous; Huxley wasn’t coming until 2:30, but the residents were waiting by the door at 1:30,” she tells The OMNIway.

“I told them Huxley wasn’t coming for another hour, and they said, ‘we don’t want to miss him.’ … Some (residents) were even pacing in the dining room.”

During their visit, Lesley and Huxley spent time with the residents who had been eagerly waiting in the lounge as well as with those who were in their rooms.

Janie says the visit from Lesley and Huxley had a positive impact that is still being felt days after their time at the home.

“Residents were so thrilled, not just to see Huxley but also Lesley,” she says.

“Pet therapy is one of those activities that (positively impacts) every resident in the home. The staff are also thrilled that we are able to do this because it‘s one step closer to things being the way they were pre-COVID.”

Janie says Lesley and Huxley will be visiting West Lake Terrace every Wednesday for pet-therapy sessions.

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PHOTO CAPTION: Pictured above, West Lake Terrace volunteer Lesley Campbell holds her pug, Gibson, during a window visit in 2020. Sadly, Gibson passed away this past summer, but his brother, Huxley, is now headlining pet-therapy sessions with residents.